PETALING JAYA, March 21 — Discrimination based on the colour of one’s skin seems to be on the rise in Malaysia despite the government's efforts to promote moderation and racial harmony.
The Racial Discrimination Report 2016 by non-profit social outfit Pusat Komas released tonight found that strained ethnic relations are growing although the National Unity Consultative Council has been working to bolster ties.
"Recent incidents of racial discrimination, racism and stained ethnic relations within the Malaysian society have increasingly surfaced over the years despite the Prime Minister's numerous assurances and claims at home and abroad that the government promotes moderation in the country," the report presented by programme coordinator Ryan Chua read.
The report added that the growth of social media has also made the racial divide further with more room for such negative sentiments to be propagated.
"The emergence of the Internet and social media platforms has provided more open spaces and platforms for widespread expression of racial sentiments and hate speech," it read.
The report was based on news reports on racial discrimination in 2015 and 2016. It also found that many Malaysians were critical of the authorities for their "lack of enforcement and actions towards overt and public declarations of racial sentiments" by groups perceived as racial supremacist.
Among several recommendations, Pusat Komas urged Putrajaya to immediately sign and ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination under the United Nations to promote equality among Malaysians.
It also recommended harsher punishments for individuals, especially politicians, who make racially inciting statements.
"The government must be willing to impose heavy legal and formal sanctions on any government Minister's, senior officers, elected representatives, organisations and groups, individuals who exhibit racist and discriminatory tendencies and in speech and action," the report read.
The report highlighted various cases of racial discrimination which happened over the past year which includes statements made by political figures like Umno grassroots leader Datuk Jamal Yunos and Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali.